We are in a period of nostalgia in America, Generation X nostalgia, where iconic films and television shows are being rebooted or reimagined for the children of the 1980s to consume and re-live their simpler days.
Cobra Kai is a popular Netflix series that is a reboot of the iconic The Karate Kid film trilogy of the 1980s. Heck, Sylvester Stallone, himself, an ‘80s cinema icon, has had a bit of a career reboot thanks to Tulsa King, a new series on Paramount Plus that allows Sly to be Sly in all his glory.
Did you love the ‘80s? I sure did, which is why I’m so glad to see the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers take me back to the days when nobody knew who the quarterback should be, but we all thought the next guy would be better than the current guy.
Make no mistake, Kenny Pickett, the Steelers' 2022 first-round pick, is the starting quarterback in the next game provided he’s cleared from the concussion protocol in time for the kickoff against the Panthers at Bank America Stadium this Sunday at 1 p.m.
But what if Pickett isn’t cleared to play? Who should start at quarterback for the Steelers?
That would have been an absurd thing to ask prior to last Sunday’s game against the Ravens at Acrisure Stadium, but one now has to ask such a question after Mitch Trubisky threw three critical interceptions while subbing in for an injured Pickett.
In fact, many began to ask that question immediately after those three interceptions played a vital role in a 16-14 loss that now has Pittsburgh’s playoff chances on life support with a month to go.
The question was posed to head coach Mike Tomlin at his weekly presser on Tuesday, but instead of emphatically saying, “Mitch, next question,” he made it clear that both Trubisky and, get this, Mason Rudolph would split the reps in practice in preparation for possibly starting against Carolina.
There is a growing sentiment that Rudolph should start at quarterback if Pickett can’t go. In fact, the polls suggested that this would be a popular move with the fans even before Tomlin spoke to reporters on Tuesday.
We have certainly come a long way since the summer, haven’t we? We’ve come a long way since Mitchburgh and Biscuit or whatever. We’ve come a long way since the outrage that followed the Steelers' “clerical error” which initially had Pickett behind Rudolph on the quarterback depth chart at the end of training camp.
We’ve come a long way since “Booooo!”
The people have spoken, and they want Rudolph to guide their team’s sleigh.
That’s right, Steelers fans are now open to the idea of Rudolph joining in on some reindeer games.
I’m here for all of it.
Don’t get me wrong, starting Rudolph over Trubisky makes no sense logically.
There is no way Rudolph is coming back to Pittsburgh next year. Why would he? He seems to still have the desire to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and that’s never going to happen on a full-time basis with the Steelers.
While Rudolph isn’t under contract with the Steelers in 2023, Trubisky certainly is. Sure, Pittsburgh can cut ties with few financial ramifications, but we all know how the world works. One minute, you’re in the head coach’s doghouse (it certainly seems as if Tomlin has been a bit upset with Trubisky for quite some time), the next minute, he’s asking you to stick around and be the team’s backup quarterback for another season.
That could be a bit harder to do if Trubisky sinks to the bottom of the QB depth chart at the tail end of what looks to be a lost season, playoff-wise.
I’m guessing Trubisky, a team captain, won’t take too kindly to yet another demotion.
But while it makes little sense for Rudolph to start any game at quarterback down the stretch, I just want to see it happen for oh so many reasons.
The story would be too rich, especially if Rudolph does really well and muddies the quarterback waters in Pittsburgh even more than they currently are.
I realize after 12 years of doing this that, to paraphrase comedian Dave Chappelle, I’m 20 percent Steelers fan and 80 percent Steelers writer.
Give me the story, the juicy, complicated story.
I want Tomlin to think illogically and act like most head coaches normally would in this situation. I want him to be so desperate to try and squeeze one more win out of this season that he causes a true quarterback controversy.
They often say there’s a thin line between love and hate. There’s no question that Rudolph has been a hated figure in Pittsburgh for quite some time. But that’s okay because few people simply like a quarterback. They either love him or hate him. Rudolph could turn those feelings around really fast and cause a lot of fans to become confused emotionally if he shows up and shows out in a game or two.
I can’t wait to read Mason Rudolph’s autobiography: I'm Sorry, But You Had Your Chance.
In conclusion, take me back to the 1980s, Coach Tomlin. We’re both members of Generation X, we both like nostalgia, and who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned quarterback controversy?